The Coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation and I share your concern about the economic impact it is having on people, especially children, in our constituency.
Like you, I believe it is absolutely essential that the Government provides support to people at this difficult time, especially to ensure that protecting children is at the heart of our recovery. I welcome the range of support that has been made available, at speed, to support low income families. It is now easier to access benefits and ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions have made significant enhancements to the welfare system to ensure people receive vital support. This includes the increases to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit which are uplifting people’s income, and an increase in the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants to the 30th percentile of local market rents.
In addition to the annual increase to Universal Credit and Tax Credit, other measures have been introduced to support children from low income families during this time. For example, I welcomed the action to help schools keep providing free school meals for eligible families. I am pleased that children are now returning to school and will receive the vital support and education. A £1 billion COVID-19 ‘catch-up’ package will be in place this academic year to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time.
Together, these measures represent one of the most comprehensive packages of support introduced by an advanced economy in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.